Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Absolute Best, Most Delicious Granola Ever!

Last August, my Mother-in-Law gave me a book: Breakfast Comforts, by Rick Rodgers. This was a perfect gift, mixing my favorite hobbies of cooking and eating good breakfasts into one book! No recipes in this book have been losers, and several have been big, big winners (cheese-and-marmalade french toast sandwiches, banana-brown butter waffles with dulche de leche, tomato and basil scramble with fresh mozzarella, mushroom omelet with fontina and thyme, eggs blackstone with roasted tomatoes, and sticky-sweet pecan caramel rolls, to name a few). One of the most re-requested recipes though, is the Maple-Coconut Granola with Yogurt and Mango. In fact, I make a double batch of it every week--Kara has it for breakfast every day. I love it, my kids love it, my wife loves it...it's just a solid recipe.

Those of you who know me may find it interesting that I enjoy a recipe with so much coconut in it, as I have had several bad experiences with coconut and have developed something of an aversion to it. But you honestly can't even taste it in this recipe, no joke. So here's the recipe as it is printed:

Ingredients
3 cups (9 oz/280 g) rolled oats
2 cups (10 oz/315 g) coarsely chopped almonds, pecans, or walnuts
1 cup (4 oz/125 g) shredded dried coconut flakes
1 cup (4 oz/125 g) hulled, unsalted raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz/105 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (5 1/2 oz/170 g) pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B
1/2 cup (3 fl oz/80 ml) vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cupos (9 oz/280 g) raisins

For Each Serving
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz/75 g) Maple-Coconut Granola
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup (3 oz/90 g) peeled, pitted, and diced ripe mango
Honey for drizzling

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 300F (150C). Lightly oil a deep roasting pan.
2. Add the oats, almonds, coconut, and sunflower seeds to the prepared pan. Mix well. In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, maple syrup, oil, and cinnamon until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the oat mixture and mix well with your hands until the mixture is thoroughly moistened.
3. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes and being sure to move the granola from the edges of the pan to the center, until it is noticeably crisper, 45-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan. Stir in the raisins. (The granola can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 month.)
4. For each serving, combine the granola, yogurt, and mango cubes in a bowl. (Or layer the ingredients in a parfait glass.) Drizzle with honey and serve at once.

Alternate Ingredients
When I made this the first time, I did it exactly according to the directions. But after the second or third time, I started to tweak it and have found that a good recipe has gotten even better! The cooking directions remain the same, but I have tweaked the ingredients:

(mix these thoroughly together in a large bowl)
6 cups old-fashioned oats
4 cups coarsely chopped pecans (I almost always use pecans now, but almonds give it more crunch)
2 cups shredded dried coconut flakes
1 cup hulled, unsalted raw sunflower seeds (it was sunflower overload before)
(mix these together in a small bowl)
1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark doesn't seem to affect the taste much)
1 cup pure maple syrup (spring for the good stuff, you'll be glad you did--Meijer and Kroger sell it by the quart, and that's how I go)
2/3 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix the wet into the dry and combine well.

After baking, add 2-3 cups chopped dried cherries. Raisins are okay, but the cherries are great! Chop them, though, because they're a little on the large size when they're whole.

Serve with vanilla Greek yogurt.

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